Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

Sr M John Dowling

Sr M John Dowling IMAGE

Died 27 January 1922

Juliana Dowling, born 15 May 1853 in Tasmania, was the daughter of William Paul Dowling, an Irish artist and painter who had to flee his own country for political reasons, and his French-born wife, Juliana (Devaux).

The Dowling family met Father Julian Tenison Woods in Tasmania and became devoted to him. Juliana was left an orphan in her sixteenth year when her father died from tetanus contracted after surgery. There has been speculation, though not confirmed that before his death her father put Juliana in the care of Fr Woods.

Under Fr Wood's direction Juliana eventually entered the Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville, Bathurst in 1880 and made her Profession in 1881.  She  later left Perthville and joined the group of pious women who cared for Fr Woods in Surry Hills, until his death in 1889.

Sr Mary John returned to Tasmania and in February 1892 re-entered the religious life with the Sisters of St. Joseph at Westbury and made her perpetual vows on the 1st April, 1893.

In October, 1900 Sr Mary John led the small group of Sisters who left Tasmania to make a foundation at Creswick in the Ballarat Diocese of Victoria. A second convent was eventually opened at Dunolly and the Sisters worked in the Diocese till 1914. Sister M. John had suffered a stroke some time before this and as the Sisters were unable of maintaining the apostolate in the area, Sister Mary John and six companions left Creswick with the approval of Bishop Higgins, Bishop of Ballarat and joined the Lochinvar Congregation on 22 December1914.  Mother M Evangelist was the Sister Guardian who received them.

Sr Mary John was an invalid during her time Lochinvar.  Except for a short time spent in Cessnock, she was a resident of the Infirmary. She sometimes went to the music rooms to listen to the music pupils play their exam pieces, but her speech had been affected and communication was difficult.

Sister M. John had been rigorous and vigilant in training her Sisters when she was the Novice Mistress at Creswick and had passed on to them a love and respect for all facets of religious life, a deep confidence in the providence of God and a great devotion to Father Woods.

On 27 January, 1922 Sr Mary John Dowling died in the Infirmary at Lochinvar. Thus this Tasmanian-born woman who frequently moved between congregations in a most unconventional religious life, came to rest in the Lochinvar cemetery after Office and Requiem in the convent chapel on the 28 January, 1922.